Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 66

A recent newspaper story illustrates the magnitude of the defense-related environmental clean-up problem that faces Russia. Near the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk, a group of children were making bonfires using some "Queer substance" that they found at an abandoned military missile base. When local authorities checked, they discovered that the site held seven containers filled with liquid missile fuel and oxidizer. Three were unsealed and leaking. (Segodnya, March 31)

Residents in the Chelyabinsk region have had to pay a higher price than most Russians for the cavalier attitude toward the environment exhibited by Soviet authorities during the Cold War. The first Soviet plutonium production reactor was built nearby in the Kyshtym Complex, once called Chelyabinsk-40. It was the site of a major nuclear accident in the late 1950s — the so-called "Kyshtym Disaster" — that contaminated a large area. The Mayak Chemical Combine, which processes military and commercial nuclear waste and is Russia’s largest producer of weapons-grade plutonium, is also nearby, and the region is recognized as one of the most radioactively contaminated sites in the world.

Popular Attitudes Toward Reform.